24 Learning

24 Learning

Sunday, May 24, 2015

In chapter two Carol Dweck talks about the effort leading to success that a growth mindset encourages. She also highlights the big risks of both high and low effort.

For people with a fixed mindset the fear of trying and failing can be paralyzing. If you go to do something but you don't really try hard, you were not really prepared, if you didn't work as hard as you could have and you don't win... you have an excuse. Nothing is harder than saying, "I gave it my all and it wasn't good enough". For people with a fixed mindset this fear of failure can prevent them trying in the first place.

I can still remember a moment I experienced early in my teacher training.
As part of a communication course the lecturers had a selection of books on display for us to browse during the breaks. I picked up Susan Jeffers book "Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway". Class started at that moment and I didn't get time to read any more than the cover but I still remember the impact it had on me. At various times since that feeling has come back to me as I have faced moments where I was afraid to give something a try. By acknowledging to myself that I am afraid and then reminding myself that I am not going to let fear stop me from trying I have been able to experience some great challenges that I know I would not have attempted otherwise.

Susan Jeffers outlines Five Truths about Fear including...

The fear will never go away as long as you continue to grow!
Every time you take a step into the unknown, you experience fear. There is no point in saying, "When I am no longer afraid, then I will do it." You'll be waiting for a long time. The fear is part of the package.

Carol also talks about the big risk of low effort...

In the growth mindset, it's almost inconceivable to want something badly, to think you have a chance to achieve it, and then do nothing about it. When it happens the "I could have been" is heartbreaking not comforting.

(Mindset, Carol Dweck. p.44)

Reading this reminded me of a quote from Charles Dickens that I wrote out on a scroll and had stuck on the wall above my desk for a number of years.

“Sadly, sadly, the sun rose; it rose upon no sadder sight than the man of good abilities and good emotions, incapable of their directed exercise, incapable of his own help and his own happiness, sensible of the blight on him, and resigning himself to let it eat him away.”

(Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities)
I find those words a challenge to my apathy at times. 
I was also interested in Carol's discussion of the idea that we can have a fixed mindset about certain aspects of our lives while still maintaining a growth mindset about other aspects of who we are. 

What things in your life do you have a fixed mindset about?

(Toilet paper should always roll out from the wall, never down the wall)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

NZ Flag - Great activity to get children thinking about design

Campbell Live this evening has had a story focusing on the NZ flag debate. 88% of respondents to their survey do not want a change to the flag. This is up from 84% answering the same question in February. I am sure the margin of error on this sort of survey will be big but those numbers are not insignificant.

I'm not sure where I sit on this issue. Part of me agrees with Ian Mune...

Ian Mune, Director, Writer, Actor

"Why a flag? To run up the mast, to drape over a coffin, to unfurl in the breeze, to gather around, to say "This is us." So who are we? According to our current flag, a bunch of poms in the South Pacific. We stand by Australia like two kids going to school, our flags almost identical, and both looking backwards, still acknowledging our parents. We're grown-ups now. Let's buy our own clothes. And if we want the stars, we better get in quick or the Aussies will pinch it." 


... and part of me agrees with the 88% support shown by John Campbell's survey respondents. I get both sides of this debate. The desire for change based around identity and the desire to hold on to and cherish the memories of historical moments celebrated under our current flag. The issue is way deeper than a  weighing up of the pros and cons because there is so much emotion involved. I wonder if the next debate will be about changing the national anthem?

I would love to hear your opinion. Do you favour a change? Why? Why not? What do your children think?

I was thinking about this being a genuine learning opportunity for our children to be involved in.
So... if anyone is interested here are a few resources that might be useful as inspiration.

The TED talk below is a really interesting summary about what makes for a good flag design and some of the common mistakes designers make. The talk is mostly about city flags but it has some good flag design rules that apply to country, city or actually any flag design. It is also just a really different presentation style and worth watching for that reason.

NZFlag.com has a whole lot of great resources for teachers. This is a must visit site if you want to run a "design a flag" activity with your class.


This next one is the government site asking for feedback. This is where children genuinely can have a say.

What do you stand for?

The NZ History page has some great background on the flag debate.


The ones below are various other sites that have some useful resources to support your discussions.

Quirky alternatives


Google Image Search NZ Flag

If you do decide to do this as an activity send me links to any cool designs your classes come up with and I will post the link for others to share.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Mindset - Carol Dweck

I had the opportunity a few weeks ago to hear Carol Dweck and  Guy Claxton speaking in Christchurch.

I have started reading Carol's book and thought I would blog my reflections and questions from what I am reading.

On page 8 and 9 Carol outlines two different responses to some bad things happening in the day of a young adult... a bad test grade, a parking ticket and a brush off from a friend. She talks about the responses people have to these sort of experiences not as pessimistic vs optimistic but as fixed vs growth mindset responses. 
As I was reading this I looked up at the card pinned on the wall at home..

Carol goes on to say that a growth mindset isn't just about risk taking and effort but that an understanding of fixed and growth mindsets will help us identify thoughts, actions and beliefs that lead us to success. 

Towards the end of chapter one Carol says "exceptional people seem to have a special talent for converting life's setbacks into future successes".  I feel really privileged to be part of a school where I see so many people with this attitude. We have faced a few setbacks in Christchurch in the last few years but now really is the time to start building our own future.

Back to Blogging

Clearly I am not a dedicated blogger. The last post was August 2011. Phew quite a lot has happened in the intervening years. For those of you not in the loop this is the 30 second run down on why I stopped blogging...

Big earthquake
Bit of a clean up required - Life got quite busy.
Another earthquake - more cleanup
Became Acting Principal
School merger proposal - fought that for a bit
School merge
Rāwhiti School

The long version would take a novel which I'm not ready to write just at the moment.

But.... Here we are 2015... The school merger has happened. Rāwhiti School is underway and we are looking positively to a year of challenge. There are so many things in front of us as a staff that it is sometimes hard to decide the priorities. I have been so impressed with how brilliantly our staff have all got on with the job of making Rāwhiti School great even amongst all the challenges we face. There is such an atmosphere of good will and positive problem solving it is brilliant. As I move around the two bases I am constantly impressed with the brilliant relationships that staff have with the children and with each other. I can see already that Rāwhiti School is going to be great.

So... This leads me to why I have decided to start blogging again after all this time.

1. It is a quiet Sunday morning and I was mucking around online and floated to my blog.
2. We are encouraging staff to learn new things and to get connected online and blogs are one way to do that. (Better lead by example I think)
3. My blog has always been a space for me to reflect on stuff I have been thinking about. I thought I would start it up again to post my reflection on some of the learning I am doing this year.

So there it is. Mostly this is for me. I welcome comments though cause I learn so much more from conversation with others than just from my own reading and reflecting.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

EasiYo cooking video competition

A group of our Year 7 and 8 students entered the EasiYo Cooking Video competition. We would love your vote. The competition winner will be judged by online votes so the more the merrier.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Long time no post

I feel a little guilty about not having posted anything for such a long time and now this post is asking for your help. Freeville School is in the final 20 to win a $50,000 or $10,000 prize from The Palms shopping centre. This is one way you could help us for only a few mouse clicks. If you feel able to support Freeville School we would really appreciate it. All you have to do is follow this link and place your vote for Freeville.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Freeville Room 5

What a fantastic effort from Room 5 at Freeville School. These children should be very proud to be finalists in the tvnz6netguide awards

Monday, August 23, 2010

Freedom Writers

As you can see I am trolling around the net for writing ideas. Someone loaned me a copy of Freedom Writers the other day. Very inspirational story. Great to think that a teacher could be so inspiring and the sense of hope that Erin Gruell allowed to grow in her class was impressive. The positive I took away from watching the video was the sense of purpose that she was able to inspire. I may just be getting old but I also found it a little bit disturbing that it was conveyed as a noble thing that she worked three jobs to pay for resources, and that her marriage collapsed because she spent all her time working. I haven't read the book and I know nothing more of the truth of her story than from watching the movie but...... ???? It just raised a few questions for me.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Writing Inspiration

I've been browsing the net for resources to inspire our staff to be teaching writing in creative ways.

Here are a few links I thought worth sharing around.

Imagination Prompt Generator
The page is full of adverts but the ideas from the prompt generator are actually quite cool.

Writing Prompt Generator
A great little generator. Well worth a look.

31 ways to find inspiration for your writing
The main site this link is from is aimed at adult writers but the link is to quite a good list.

Ambleside Primary Crazy Story Machine


Scholastic Inspire Young Writers

2 Writing Teachers blog

I'm sure there are a million more great sites. Leave a comment with your best picks (although do understand that I will vet them and not publish any I consider rubbish or too full of advertising)

Monday, June 28, 2010

I found a poem written years ago

sticky out bits

Thought I might just share this little poem I wrote a very long time ago. (In case you need a prompt count the letters in each line.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

My apologies for being ethno centric

Over the last few months I have been getting a number of comments on this blog in Chinese. I have just been rejecting these outright because I had no idea what they said. This morning it occurred to me to drop the latest into a translator.


Thanks you to write down your life, also is comes the treasure the regard which and the gentlemen shares

So...... I thank you too for taking the time to thank me. I don't hold myself in much regard so it is disconcerting to think that someone in China thinks my sharing is a treasure. (At least that is what I'm taking from the translation.) If I have completely misunderstood the message feel free to enlighten me.

Friday, March 12, 2010

National Standards misleading comments

I'm not a political animal and I really do like my job thank you John but I just have to vent my frustration at the reporting of the national standards issue in the press. Today's Christchurch Press has a photo of John Key and Anne Tolley opening a new school under the banner Key prefers to 'work with' rebel schools

The first sentence says

Schools rebelling against the new national standards will have to explain to parents why they are prepared to allow children to leave school without adequate literacy and numeracy skills.

Now really! (if this is actually what you said John) This is just such political emotive nonsense. Schools already have many systems in place for identifying and communicating student achievement. The emotive suggestions that we need national standards to help us identify the underachievement are just patently wrong. Key's statement also suggests that schools are doing nothing about inadequate literacy and numeracy. Again... wrong wrong wrong. Schools work tirelessly and teachers care passionately about raising achievement. There is also an implied suggestion that we need the standards to identify schools that are failing. No. We have a school review process for that through the education review office. But it has just occurred to me that maybe with the cuts to the education budget this might be the new strategy. Scrap the Education Review Office (ERO) and just let schools be judged through published league tables of academic achievement. Lots of money will be saved. Great idea.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Learning Team 4 Blog


After ignoring this for a long time I am making an attempt to get our team blog up and running again. I've passed the management over to a couple of really capable team members so hopefully they will get some good things up there. The first story from Tenira is great.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Is this the end or only the beginning?

Two days into the holiday and already I am thinking about 2010. Sad I know. I will wind down eventually and I have planned 3 weeks away with no computer.

I have taken on school wide responsibility for professional development in writing for 2010. I've done the usual trawl of google for creative and inspirational ideas and gathered a few good looking links in my delicious account. But I thought I would put it out there to the two of you :) who read this blog. If you have any brilliant suggestions for writing professional development that I could look into for 2010 I would love to hear from you.

Have a brilliant holiday and Christmas. Relax, enjoy your family, do things you love doing but usually don't have time for. May 2010 be the best year ever!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Prompted to write about league tables and standards

Phew! It has been a really long time since I felt the urge to write anything here. Probably I have no one reading this anymore but if perchance I do then here is my little rant.

I was prompted to write after reading Greg's comments about MOE people reading his blog and asking him to correct material on it. He rightly pointed out that he was writing his own opinion and that should be respected. At the end of his post he says to be aware that MOE people are reading blogs to gauge opinion and that we should not be put off from sharing our thoughts.

So.... Here goes. If you are reading this from the MOE and want to comment then by all means do so and thereby add to the debate. Or even better go and comment on Greg's blog, cause a whole lot more people read that.

Tell me one good reason why we should be comparing schools in the manner that league tables will. I want to know two significant things when it comes to achievement data. I want to know where the child is at when they arrive (either to me as a teacher or to us as a school) and I want to know have I made a difference. (yeah yeah, I do want to know other things like next steps for learning and all that other stuff but basically I want to know am I making a difference). If I'm not helping the child improve in reading then I need to know that. If we as a school are not helping the children move numeracy stages then we need to know that, so we can do something about it. Who benefits from a league table comparison of our school to the one down the road? Or the one at the other end of the country? The argument that the MOE need this data to judge whether schools are failing just doesn't wash. They have ERO for that. If we have national standards and compulsory reporting of these will we no longer need ERO reviews?
The negative effects of league tables far outweigh any benefits.
Now don't misunderstand me. I'm not actually against plain language reporting to parents nor am I against having a standard to make comparisons against. Exemplars can be a really useful tool to use with the children to show them how their writing could be improved. As a parent I want to know whether my child is doing ok? As well as expected? Are they a genius (having inherited their mother's genes) or do they desperately need some more help. I want to know all this and it is quite reasonable to expect that we should be giving that information to parents in simple language they can understand. Learning stories are great (we use them a lot at our school and love them) but not really helpful if at the end of it I still have to ask "So are they doing ok?"
A big bug bear I have about this whole process is the sham that has been called consultation. If this is really important would it not have been significantly more productive to work with teachers and principals and get the sort of input and consultation that has happened with the new curriculum. I was offended to read in the paper in the first weekend of the school holidays an "announcement" from the ministry about new reporting formats that we will have to adopt for 2010??? Come on people. This is really unreasonable. Now perhaps this is just media hype and actually the MOE are not going to ask us at the end of October to have new reporting formats and documents for 2010. But hey! We live in interesting times.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Alfie Kohn and National Testing

I've just bought this book by Alfie Kohn

I haven't finished it yet but it is giving me a lot to think about in light of the current discussion in NZ about national education standards.

Actually I was prompted to post something here because I read Graham Wegner's blog and his latest comment is about the death of blogging.

Sorry. Back to Alfie Kohn. Wouldn't it be great to get someone like this out to NZ to speak the Minister of Education.

It's the school holidays here in New Zealand so apart from sleeping and catching up on unfinished school work I am managing to also do some reading. Quite fun really when you get the time. :)

Friday, February 13, 2009

More from Sir Ken Robinson

This is from a talk he gave to the RSA about his new book "The Element". It is 40 minutes but well worth the time.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Sir Ken Robinson


This man is a legend.

Sorry the above link seems to have disappeared. If you haven't listened to Sir Ken speak browse Youtube and pick up on some of his presentations. He is fantastic to listen to.

Friday, November 14, 2008

World Population


It is Canterbury Show Day today and I am sitting with my girls browsing the net and having fun asking questions of Ms Dewey. We came across the link above which is a counter of world population. It allows you to pick a date back to 1970 and compare population then and now. You can also project into the future and see what the population will be up to 2037. This could be worth sharing as a discussion starter for my class. If I team this up with The Story of Stuff the discussion could get really interesting. I'm going to try it out.

Four day working weeks are great! Maybe the new government would consider this as a new policy?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Following on from ULearn08

I've just been reading some of the things I picked up at ULearn.

The Periodoc Table of Videos is a brilliant set of youtube videos from the University of Nottingham. Click on each element and you get a short video explaining the element. Just great.

Tutpup is another site worth checking out. This is basic maths facts and spelling where you login and compete against others from around the world. It is a bit like Mathletics and Spellodrome except it is free. That always attracts me. :)

I have also been playing with Marvin. This looks like it could be quite fun. The thing I really want out of any of these animation software programs is the ability to create characters. I haven't yet found one that will easily allow that. Marvin is pretty cool though and pretty easy to use. It has a few bugs that annoy me. I couldn't get it to export the sound with the animation when I created a video.

Another cool looking gizmo that I think we will buy is this mp3 recorder. It has a built in rechargeable battery and you can listen to what you have recorded on the unit before you save it to your computer to manipulate in audacity or upload to a podcast.

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach was one of the keynote speakers at ULearn08. She very generously makes all of her resources available for free on her wiki here. There are a whole lot of great resources here worth looking at.

Robomind is a great looking online intro to programming. I'd really like to get some lego robot kits but this might be a good starting point.

Another great resource gathered at ULearn was the Interface Magazine.